Behind the Scenes: Rosé of Pinot Noir Debut

Imagery is key when launching a new product and we knew the best person to help capture the essence of Layer Cake’s new Rosé of Pinot Noir: food and lifestyle photographer Matt Armendariz.

We flew down and spent two days in his naturally lit, loft-style photo studio in Long Beach, CA. We were graced with his talent, props, equipment and stylists to help us achieve the perfect shot for our upcoming launch. The goal was to make the wine look as good as it tastes. We succeeded.

Few know just how much it takes to get the perfect shot, especially one as important as this for our new product release. For this, we were extremely grateful to have Matt’s expertise. Once we were happy the the final shot, it was time to bring the ad to life.

That’s when we turned to Zentiv creative agency in Santa Rosa, CA to help the ad jump off the page. You can see our beautiful new ad in the latest editions of Wine Spectator, Food & WineWine & Spirits, Wine Enthusiast, Sunset and many more. We believe it captures the essence of the wine, and are excited to share it with you all. Cheers.

Wine and Food Pairings for Your Home Brunch

Brunch has gained a lot of popularity in the past few years, and for good reason. Between the upscale food and the tasty cocktails, brunch has everything you need to have a truly relaxing weekend. Many restaurants and wineries have started offering special brunch menus on weekend mornings. But sometimes, you don’t feel like going out. For those days that you want the comfort of your own home, but still want a relaxing brunch with friends, we have some brunch hosting tips for you!

Plan a Theme

Every meal is better with a theme, especially when entertaining! Choose a common element to tie your brunch together. You could choose a region-inspired brunch, serving dishes from places like Italy or New Orleans, and picking décor and music to match.

Or maybe you want a food theme! Try a veggie-only brunch, or pick a main entrée dish and choose sides and drinks to match!

Other themes could include colors, time periods, or even pop culture references. The sky is your limit! Choosing a theme makes it easier for everyone to pitch in while still having a cohesive brunch meal. This way your brunch will be a team effort and no one person will have to do all the work. More fun for everyone!

Think about Prep

If you want your brunch to run smoothly, think about the flow of traffic between food prep and food consumption. Prep as much of your meal as possible before your guests arrive. Put baked goods in the oven as your guests arrive, to be enjoyed after your first drinks.

Create a station for light food and drink prep. If you’re looking for maximum convenience, look at these wine tasting centers that store wine bottles, glasses, and have counter-space for drink prep. With drawers to store your bottle opener and silverware, you can make this your brunch supply station and be ready for brunch any time! Some even have room for seating and double as a table!

Pair Fantastic Food with Wonderful Wine

Now for what you’re really here for: the food! Here are some ideas to get you started planning your brunch meal:

  • Flatbread is a great finger food and easy to pair with other dishes. Try some simple herbs, smoked salmon and prosciutto on grilled flatbread. It’d go great with Layer Cake Chardonnay or a crisp, Sauvignon Blanc to balance out the salt in the smoked salmon.
  • Want your brunch to have fresh, homegrown food? Plan ahead and plant a pesto garden! Then all your brunches can have a lovely pesto for pizza, pasta, flatbread, or bruschetta!
  • Pair a French Toast (or as the French call it, Pain Perdu) with a homemade berry jam and the fruity Layer Cake Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Looking to add some whimsy to your meal? Check out this A-Z guide to edible flowers. There are recipes for rose jam, yucca hash, and more! You can even make your own Dandelion Wine as an after-brunch palate cleanser. Edible flowers are an easy and unique addition to any meal, more information can be found at Sharie’s Berries Guide to Edible Flowers as well.
  • Stock up on your favorite Champagne or sparkling wine and some fresh citrus juices (orange, grapefruit, tangerine, etc.) for a low-maintenance mimosa bar!
  • Want to give your guests an option with a little zing? Try these Buttermilk and Sharp Cheddar Biscuits with Brown Sugar Cured Ham & Pepper Jelly.

These are just a few fun ideas for your next wine-centric brunch with close friends and family. What’s your favorite brunch pairing? Share in the comments!

Submitted by Layer Cake Wines fan, Jeriann Watkins

Throw a Last Minute New Year’s Eve Party

The expectations are high for New Year’s Eve. It happens every year, three days prior to the big ball drop, we find ourselves wiped out from all the holiday cheer with no extravagant plans to welcome the new year. The pressure is on to find a party that doesn’t cost $100 per person, or that isn’t already sold out. But your house is clean (maybe), Christmas decorations are still up, so why not throw your own party?

It’s easier than you think. Ask all your friends that will certainly be in the same position to bring a dish or drink (hmm, Layer Cake?) and turn up a killer playlist. We’ve compiled a few simple ideas to turn your party planning anxiety into excitement.

White Chocolate Popcorn, Less than $10

Mix savory and sweet by combining a bowl of microwaved (or stovetop) popcorn and melted white chocolate. Once the popcorn is popped, melt one cup of white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl for 30 seconds or until melted. Stir and drizzle onto the top of the popcorn, then toss. For added festivity, crush a candy cane in a Ziploc bag and sprinkle the flakes on top as garnish.

Easy Charcuterie, $10-$15

Take a trip to your nearest grocery store with a deli and look for two nice salamis (think hard salami or Genoa). Ask for a quarter pound of each, sliced paper thin. You’ll be amazed how far a quarter pound goes. Then run to the cheese section and pick a few favorites (crowd-pleasers like Manchego and brie). On your way to the cashier, grab a fresh baked baguette to slice on the side. When you get home, find your prettiest plate or cleanest cutting board and present your selections.

Extra Sweet Tooth, Less than $5

Nobody is going to complain about a bowl of M&Ms. Grab a bag of holiday-colored M&Ms to pair with a glass of Shiraz.

Need some NYE party music inspiration? Check out this playlist on Spotify.

Happy New Year!

Drink Different This Holiday: Five Fun Holiday Pairings

Let’s face it: If you have to spend a whole meal with those in-laws you don’t really like, you might as well eat and drink well while you’re there. This is yet another reason why the holidays are a great opportunity to pair food and beverages in new and exciting ways. To save you some heavy mental lifting, we recently tasked our experts to come up with some fun (and, in a few cases, unexpected) holiday pairings for foods you know and love. Most of the pairings are a bit unusual, but you’ll notice a familiar wine on the list, too. Once you’ve tried these duos, please let us know what you think. Happy Holidays!

Champagne + Potato Latkes

Potato latkes, or pancakes, are a mainstay of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights. They also are tough to pair with most still wines. Instead, reach for the bubbles—preferably dry bubbles from Champagne, or Prosecco from Italy. The effervescence will cut through the grease of the latkes and wash down the starchy potatoes. After your second glass, you also will notice an improvement in your dreidel skills.

Hard apple cider + Turkey

Who needs cranberry sauce with salty turkey when you can drink hard apple cider instead? Pretty much any cider made with sharp-sweet apples will work, so long as the one you choose has lots of brightness and acidity. If you want to get really next-level, choose a cider that mixes in bittersweet apples from England or France and marvel at how the tastes become more structured and austere.

German-style Hefeweizen + Lobster Tails

When it comes to Christmas dishes, nothing is fancier than lobster tails. Still, this top-shelf dish works best with a lowbrow drink: a light and fruity German-style Hefeweizen. This particular beer brings out the salinity and natural sweetness of the shellfish, while cleansing your palate for the next bites. You even can drink it with a bib on.

Malbec + Christmas Cookies

One of the best attributes of our 2016 Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina, is its ability to pair with all sorts of different foods. At holiday time, the wine’s flavors of blackberries, chocolate sauce, and bacon dovetail perfectly with the sweet and spicy flavors of Christmas cookies. We dare you to limit yourself to one of either.

Sweet Vermouth + Panettone

Yes, we know panettone is an acquired taste. But believe it or not, the mashup of fruitcake with this Italian aperitif is a match made in heaven. The saccharine flavor of the vermouth all but vanquishes the bitter and tart flavor of the fruitcake’s citron, leaving you to enjoy the sweet and slightly sour dough on its own. After experiencing this combo, you’ll never wince at panettone again.

An Italian Holiday Tradition

The holidays are a time of celebration, a time for family traditions – new and old. One of our favorite “borrowed” traditions is making generously herbed, slow-roasted pig, better known as Porchetta. The savory, succulent dish has the honor of being selected by the Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policy as a prodotto agroalimentare tradizionale (“traditional agricultural-alimentary product”, one of a list of traditional Italian foods held to have cultural relevance). Porchetta is also one of two iconic culinary products of the Lazio region. We like to think our Layer Cake Primitivo is the other, but actually it’s pecorino romano.

We invite you to try a new holiday tradition this year and treat your family to our recipe for the perfect Porchetta, courtesy of our friends at the Fatted Calf.

1 boneless pork middle, skin on (10-12 lbs)
¾ cup mortared garlic
Zest of 4 lemons
¼ cup fine sea salt
¼ cup black pepper, finely ground
1 cup fennel seeds, toasted and ground
2 bunches rosemary, finely chopped
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup coarse sea salt

Serves: 10             Active prep: 1 hour             Cook time: 3-4 ½ hours

1. Preheat your oven to 375˚F.

2. Score the pork skin perpendicular to the direction of the ribs.

3. Rub the garlic all over the meat, followed by the lemon zest. Then sprinkle liberally with the coarse sea salt, pepper, fennel and finally the rosemary.

4. Starting from the loin side, roll the pork into a cylinder and tie every 2 inches with butcher’s twine. Rub with the olive oil and sprinkle with the coarse salt.

5. Put your finely tied roast on a rack, then into oven until it’s golden brown, about 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 300˚F and cook until the internal temperature is 140˚F. This can take from 2 ½ – 4 hours, depending on the thickness of the roast.

6. Remove porchetta from the oven and let it rest for 30 minutes.

7. Carve with a serrated knife into ½ inch thick slices and enjoy!

And for more Layer Cake Wine pairings, visit our recipes page, or purchase one of our One True Vine journals here.